Why I Won't Vote for John Edwards

From N&O 7/19/1998 "Edwards' success is campaign issue"

...But lawyers who have faced Edwards in the courtroom say he is a master of playing on the heartstrings of jurors who have a natural sympathy for brain-damaged babies or for people who have been paralyzed. And they argue that Edwards, more than any other personal injury lawyer in North Carolina, is responsible for changing the legal climate, where huge verdicts are now acceptable.

The cost for some caught in Edwards lawsuits is more than monetary.

That was the case of Dr. Brian Sherrington, a Southern Pines pediatrician, who was sued along with an obstetrician and Moore County Regional Hospital when a baby was born prematurely with severe respiratory problems and with brain damage.

Sherrington was not involved in the baby's delivery. But after the baby was born, he was called by a nurse for a brief telephone consultation when he was the only doctor the hospital could reach. He told the hospital to get a chest X-ray.

Sherrington says three years of "agony" elapsed from the time he was sued to when the suit against him was dropped in 1992. (A settlement was reached between the parents of the child and the obstetrician.)

"To say it had an impact on my life and career is an understatement," says Sherrington, who has practiced for 22 years. "It made me more defensive. I'm second-guessing myself more often. I am second-guessing patients. Are they really telling me everything? Are they holding back anything? Those sorts of things never used to float around my mind."

One result of the suit is that Sherrington stopped practicing neonatology, the branch of pediatrics that deals with the care of sick newborns. He still practices pediatrics.

"I was depressed," Sherrington says. "I even thought about leaving medicine, leaving the area. It was really devastating. I just kept feeling guilty about the whole thing. I felt I had made a mistake, despite evidence to the contrary...."

Dr. Sherrington is a good person and a good doctor. He was my pediatrician when I was a child and I am happy he is now my child's. Sorry, but he did not deserve what John Edwards did to him. That Dr. Sherrington dropped out of neonatology is not only a loss to the community, it is symptomatic of what happens to good doctors at the hands of trial lawyers who claim they have done something "wrong."


Actually, no, I'm not

I only said that if after discovery the attorneys knew the man was not culpable they had a responsibility to release him from the suit. That is speaking in purely hypotheticals and I framed my comment as such.

I have also said that it is typical for attorneys to cast a wide net as they investigate the case. They have a responsibility to their clients to do so and I understand that. However, it is my opinion and only my opinion, that once this wide net has been cast and once the investigation is completed, if the lawyers find that one of their targets should not be named in the suit then they are morally obligated to release that person from the suit. I don't care what the law allows them to do.

I never said people shouldn't have the right to sue. Never said it.

Gonna quote myself since nobody seems to have actually read my comments. I speak mostly in hypotheticals - lots of "ifs" lying about and repeatedly say we don't have enough facts to speak to them - hence the hypotheticals.

I am a supporter of Edwards, but let's look at his duty and responsibility as well. He had a legal responsibility to his client to investigate the case closely to determine who might have been involved or negligent. I don't care what the law says, but in my opinion John Edwards also had a responsibility to all those being investigated to make sure he didn't ruin another innocent life by casting that net a little too wide. I'm not going to make that determination b/c I don't think any of us here has all the information necessary to say whether Edwards knew Dr. Sherrington had any culpability or not. However, if Edwards did and if he only included the doctor to increase the likelihood or amount of a settlement, then he does fall into the um.....slimey bastard category. Ruining one innocent life to revenge another is a pretty slimey thing to do and nobody here has any proof that Edwards did, nor do they have proof that he did not.

That was actually the opening paragraph of my first comment on this thread. I didn't accuse John Edwards of doing anything wrong, but I understand that there are a lot of lawyers who do and JRE will be painted with that brush. I like the idea of having the opportunity to figure out the best response to those folks, hence my entry into this thread.

So, here's a quote from you, Iddybud:

Are you suggesting that seeking justice is "pillage?"

No, I didn't say that and you know it. This is what I said:

You know, in my book, it is never OK to sue someone just because they can afford it, just because it doesn't come out of their pocket or just because they have smart attorneys too. That's just wrong. Insurance companies are huge profit centers, but does that mean we have the right to pillage and plunder their bottom line?

You don't sue someone just because they have a lot of money. You don't sue someone just because they are insured for it. You only sue someone if you have been damaged by that person or that company. If you have no damages, there should be no law suit. You framed your comment to make it sound like we shouldn't worry about a doctor because he has insurance and doesn't pay out of his own pocket. We shouldn't worry about insurance companies because they have smart attorneys. That's bull. We should always worry and think about how our actions are going to impact others whether we have a rightful complaint against them or not.

You then said:

I see an unmistakable prejudice there.

You like to throw the word "prejudice" around a lot. I will admit to a prejudice against arrogant and intentionally ignorant people. If lawyers fit in this category, then so be it.

You continued:

As someone who has professionally "been there" and seen both sides of the coin, I feel differently. Shouldn't we attack the root cause and not those who administer and facilitate justice?

I wasn't attacking anyone Iddybud. Not a soul.

There are also just as many lawyers and judges who prevent justice through their own negligence, ignorance or prejudices, as there are those who facilitate it. I don't put anyone in the legal profession on a pedestal. I've met some amazingly stupid lawyers in my life.

You ended with:

We have "the right" to sue anyone for anything, but it doesn't mean we can expect to prevail unless a jury and/or judge sees that our pursuit of justice is within reason and has a base for dispute in the rule of law.

We have the right to do a lot of things, but that doesn't mean we should. Having the right to sue for any reason under the sun, doesn't relinquish us of our duty to behave responsibly toward our fellow man in determining whether we will sue, I don't care how deep his pockets.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

More thoughts

I'd like you to know, Southern Dem, that I was not focusing merely on you or solely upon your comments in my reply. I believe you may have perceived my thoughts as more of a direct reflection of your commentary on my part than was actually so. Therefore, if you say you never said something that you feel I attributed to you, it's because I didn't attribute it directly to you and you alone. I appreciate your feelings on each of these matters. You sparked some additional thoughts, and rest assured - I was not trying to pin you down. I enjoy a marketplace of ideas and a healthy discussion about why we believe the way we do. I am speaking about the spirit of the entire conversation we're having here together - not just your particular portion of the sub-thread. I take you at your word and your explanation about your own reason for caring about this topic. Being around politics for quite a while, I understand the reasons for many people to want to get these discussions out in the blogosphere for people to see and discuss. That said, I think Senator Edwards will make a great leader and I would proudly base that opinion on his record as an outstanding trial attorney and a man who made an honest living - in an honest and transparent way.

When you suggested that we don't "sue someone just because they have a lot of money", I'm afraid that's not the truth. Perhaps you wish that it was true? I'm not sure, but I don't blame you if that's what you meant. But I know, from experience, that it's more complicated than that. If the question of any potential defendant being liable exists, that party will likely be sued if an agreement cannot be reached between the parties. If we think attorneys do not consider the depth of the "pockets" of those who may be liable, we are wrong. Now, maybe you think it's ethically wrong, but it is an inescapable truth. If you sue someone for "no reason at all", as you said, it would never even pass summary judgement and there'd be no trial. I'm not saying that American jurisprudence makes room for perfect ethics or assured fairness all the time, but it sure as hell beats other systems in this world. Could it be reformed to make more room for ethics and fairness? Certainly.

What I would like to know from some of the other here is why they would choose to blame trial attorneys like John Edwards for doing their job? I don't see the person who started this thread engaging me on the issue and I bemoan the fact that it looks like it was a "hit and run" rather than a hope for mature and open discussion.

You said:

You framed your comment to make it sound like we shouldn't worry about a doctor because he has insurance and doesn't pay out of his own pocket. We shouldn't worry about insurance companies because they have smart attorneys.

I'm searching for the places I discussed "worrying". My frame was about John Edwards outsmarting a lot of these high-powered attorneys he faced in court...not about anxiety or assigning a philosophical degree of care toward a defendant that goes above the trial attorney's responsibility to sue that party on behalf of his client.

"Worrying" about a doctor who may well have made a mistake for which he or she is legally liable should be the last thing that crosses the mind of an attorney seeking justice for their client. I'm not even sure where to go on your statement about "not worrying about insurance companies because they have smart attorneys"...When you've got a case in front of you, you only concern yourself with what is best to achieve justice for your client. It's your job if you're representing that person's legal interests.

It's not that I like to throw the word "prejudice" around a lot..I just call things as I personally see them when they arise.

You said

I've met some amazingly stupid lawyers in my life.

Me, too. My point here is that Senator Edwards was NOT one of them.

There has been nothing in this entire thread to convince me otherwise. Do you agree?

We still don't know the facts

"After discovery the facts were known
Submitted by The Southern Dem on Mon, 12/11/2006 - 10:59pm.
This man had no choice about being sued. They didn't ask him if it was OK. After discovery the Edwards legal team knew the facts. They had a choice to release the doctor from the suit or leave him named in the suit. He had no choice in the matter."

Presumably the doctor was represented by an attorney who knows how to file a motion to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment. If there was a possibility the doctor had some liability in the case, Edwards' duty to his client would have precluded releasing the doctor from the suit.

The fact that the doctor was involved in the suit until settlement indicates to me one of two things: A) He was represented by incompetent counsel (at the expense of his malpractice insurer; not very likely) or B) there is more to the story than OP is telling.

Blind loyalty?

Blind loyalty as much as the right shows to Bush? Wow, just wow.

Being accused of being like a Bush supporter, that's a first for me!


Although I have posted a few times on this thread and although I am 100% an Edwards supporter, I haven't gotten totally emotionally entrenched in it. So, looking at it from somewhat of a spectator standpoint, I would like to offer a couple of bits of observation.

First, I have posted for years on a conservative thread just to give the other point of view. I can tell you for sure if you had been on a conservative forum and attacked one of their candidates (Yes, it was an attack.) you would have been put in their meat grinder and shreaded. So, the response you got here was at least somewhat measured.

Secondly, your motives are quite thinly masked. I'm sure the women probably read you much faster than the men did but you are fooling no one. This is a game that has been played since eve went into the garden. You raise a ruckus, fain innocence or at worst altruistic motives and think you got away with something. It didn't work, dear... it simply didn't work. You got caught red handed and it didn't work. That sort of tactics usually don't work. For an authority on it, just ask George Bush... remember the WMD? He got caught too. Hope you get your thought process straight and decide you really want to support JRE since he is the best person for the job.

Okay, but

What did you buy us? ;-) Shhhh I won't tell.

One more thing

I'll just leave it there for now. Obviously, I have no answers.

Actually, I do have an answer.

If I'm in a fight for my life, or if my country is in a fight for her life, then by God I want John Edwards on my side. You find me a tougher, harder, smarter, reality based candidate who's fight is for the little guy and I'll look at him/her. But right now, JRE is my pick. There are others I like, too, but none of them has the experience fighting better equipped, better paid opponents like Edwards has. One thing I think I know ... he won't quit, and he won't ever accept less than the best from everyone who works for him.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

SPLib - Not Your Own Party

Loyalty to your friend, the doctor, is nice. That's nice.

Now, on to politics and the nation.

I thought the single-issue voters were the worst:

"How could I ever vote for Heath Shuler? He isn't entirely in harmony with everything I believe!"

But now cometh the single-person voter:

"Forgive me for not being as blindly loyal to Edwards"
...quickly followed by...
"I dont think Edwards kept the lawsuit up against my favorite doctor in good faith."

Blindly Loyal much?

Anyway, SPLib, for what it's worth, I think you're sincere. Don't mistake disagreement for intolerance. Intolerance would be erasing your post. Instead, we're here chatting away. That's tolerant as can be.

You don't automatically get a nice reception, but that doesn't mean you're not tolerated.

Toughen up. It's a long way to 2008.

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

Thank you Screwy

You must be in the "helping professions!"

I think SPLib got exactly the kind of reception here s/he was looking for, and I personally am happy with all of the above. No one said screw you or drop dead. No one said yo' mama wears combat boots. All in all, the discussion has been relatively restrained on all sides, with appropriate amounts of snark.

I like it that people who support Edwards are wildly passionate about him. I'm not one of them yet, but I understand where they're coming from. And god bless 'em, we need all the passion we can get.

But I mostly want to echo your sentiment about single issue voters, whom I consider either stupid or naive or both. SPLib's rationale in this particular case is a bullshit complaint grounded in trumped up childhood trauma, which makes it idiotic on its face.

For my part, though, even idiotic debates are an interesting exercise in patience. How long do you engage with self-avowed trouble makers before you conclude the discussion is no longer productive? I'm certainly at that point.

Unfortunately, i reached that point at about 2pm

Instead of 11am, or whenever I originally responded to him.

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.